- McDonald's must do more to combat workplace harassment, abuse and retaliation, a group of Senate democrats said in a June 11 letter to CEO Steve Easterbrook.
- Lawmakers said the alleged pervasive patterns of sexual harassment and retaliation throughout the company's restaurants must end and that zero-tolerance policies aren't enough without enforcement. They dubbed the fast-food chain's working conditions "unsafe and intolerable" and called on McDonald's to require franchises to adopt updated policies.
- Eight senators — Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. — signed the letter and requested that Easterbrook answer questions about franchise requirements and investigation procedures by June 25.
Allegations of pervasive harassment at the chain's restaurants made headlines last year when workers staged a one-day strike aimed to pressure McDonald's to strengthen efforts to end sexual harassment on the job. And just weeks ago, 25 McDonald's employees came forward, alleging indecent exposure, groping, sexual propositions and lewd comments. Easterbrook subsequently outlined the company's efforts to improve, including an enhanced policy and an anonymous hotline, due out this month.
Following the senators' letter, the National Franchise Leadership Alliance, a group representing more than 2,000 U.S. McDonald's franchisees, assured lawmakers that it is still working to address the problem. "As owners of small businesses in almost every community, we spend our days in our restaurants and see our teams as an extension of our family," it said in a statement provided to CBS News. "No level of harassment has a place inside a McDonald's. Through our collective actions, and through tools we have been rolling out, we're working hard to provide all of our employees the support and resources they need to work in a safe environment that fosters opportunities and trust."
As the #MeToo movement has taken hold, employers across the country have found themselves scrambling to address complaints and respond to workers' demands for more preventative approaches. The sheer size of the McDonald's workforce and its franchise structure may certainly pose some hurdles for the employer, but federal enforcement agencies, lawmakers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders are watching — and promising to keep the spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace.